Order Amending Rule of Civil Procedure 1915.4; No. 2277 of 2015
[45 Pa.B. 1496]
[Saturday, March 28, 2015]
And Now, this 25th day of February, 2015, it is hereby Ordered and Decreed as follows:
1. The Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, constitutionally the Eleventh Judicial District of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, hereby amends Luzerne County Local Rule of Civil Procedure (L.R.Civ.P.) 1915.4 (restated in full) as provided in the following copy of same which is incorporated herein by reference.
2. It is further Ordered and Decreed that the Court Administrator shall file via U.S. Mail one (1) certified copy of this Rule with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, two (2) certified copies and an electronic document via e-mail saved in Microsoft Word format to the Legislative Reference Bureau for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, one (1) certified copy to the Civil Procedural Rules Committee, one (1) certified copy to the Judicial Council of Pennsylvania Statewide Rules Committee, and one (1) copy to the Luzerne Legal Register for publication in the next issue.
3. It is further Ordered that the effective date of this order shall be thirty (30) days after the date of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
4. It is further Ordered that these local rules shall be kept continuously available for public inspection and copying in the Office of Judicial Services and Records of Luzerne County.
Compliance herewith is directed.
By the Court
RICHARD M. HUGHES, III,
Rule 1915.4. Prompt Disposition of Custody Cases.
(a) The Court shall appoint one or more person(s) as Court Conciliation Officer(s) to:
(1) conciliate custody cases filed with the Court;
(2) recommend to the Court Interim Orders in appropriate custody cases which shall be in the best interest of the child;
(3) recommend appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem for the child;
(4) recommend the ordering of home studies and/or psychological or other evaluations by expert witnesses.
(b) All custody matters not specifically reserved to the Court shall be promptly scheduled for a conference before the Custody Conciliation Officer. All parties shall attend such conference. Failure of a party to appear at the conference may provide grounds for the entry of an Interim Order.
(c) To facilitate the conciliation process and encourage frank, open, and meaningful exchanges between the parties and their respective counsel, statements made by the parties or their witnesses shall not be admissible as evidence in Court. The Custody Conciliation Officer may not be a witness for any party.
(d) More than one (1) conciliation conference may be scheduled by the Custody Conciliation Officer, as that Officer deems necessary to conciliate the matter.
(e) If the parties are able to reach an agreement during the conciliation conference, the Conciliation Officer will prepare a stipulation and submit it to the parties for their signature. Upon execution of the stipulation by all parties, the Conciliation Officer will countersign same, indicating his or her review, and shall transmit the stipulation together with a proposed Final Order to the Court for approval. If counsel for either party requests, counsel may draft the stipulation for the signature of the parties, provided, however, that the stipulation must be presented to the Court together with a proposed Final Order of Court within fifteen (15) days of the conference. Failure to submit a fully executed stipulation to the Court in a timely fashion will render the agreement upon which the stipulation is based null and void. Counsel must thereafter schedule another conference with the Custody Conciliation Officer.
(f) If at the conclusion of the conciliation process the case remains contested, the Custody Conciliation Officer shall transfer the case to the Court for assignment to a Judge. As part of that transfer, the Custody Conciliation Officer shall prepare and file with the Court a proposed Interim Order based upon the recommendation of the Custody Conciliation Officer. If accepted and entered by the Court, the proposed Interim Order shall be the governing Order of the case pending any further proceeding. The Custody Conciliation Officer may recommend the scheduling of a pre-trial conference or hearing before the Court. If no such proceeding is recommended, and there are no exceptions filed to the recommendation, nor are there any requests for a pre-trial conference or hearing before the Court, then the Interim Order shall automatically become a Final Order of Court within fifteen (15) days of the date of issuance by the Court.
(g) If after receiving the Conciliation Officer's report, the Court orders the parties to submit to evaluations and/or studies, the parties shall promptly comply with the Court's direction regarding the payment for and scheduling of the evaluations and studies. Following receipt of the report(s) from the expert(s), the Court will promptly schedule another conference for the parties with the Conciliation Officer. If the parties reach an agreement at this conference, they may proceed in accordance with subsection (e) hereof. If no agreement is achieved, the Conciliation Officer will proceed pursuant to subsection (f) hereof and provide the Court and parties with an Interim Order.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 15-550. Filed for public inspection March 27, 2015, 9:00 a.m.]
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